Ask Not What Your Church Can Do For You
Do remember the Committee Fairs congregations used to hold in the fall, usually in early October, once all of the new church year start up business was over? Every committee of the church would stick a couple of members behind a table in the fellowship hall and cover it with baked goods, handouts, and brochures designed to encourage members and friends to sign up and donate some of their time.
Membership, Religious Education, Social Justice, Denominational Affairs—everyone was there, vying for your attention. The unstated message at those fairs was simple: Church isn’t just about receiving, it’s about giving, too. So in addition to your pledge, we’d like you to give us some of your time as well. Or, “Ask not what your church can do for you—ask what you can do for your church.”
There was a time when making a commitment to a voluntary association like church was a given in our country. And folks who were brought up around World War II fully understood the importance of giving of oneself to a great cause…or even a minor cause, like making sure there were flowers on the altar Sunday morning.
But that was then, when Baby Boomers were barely out of their diapers. This is now, when Digital Natives can fill every moment of their time with some app on their mobile devices. It’s no longer a given that people will join a church committee. It’s not even a given that they’ll come to church on Sunday morning.
Those who identify as “Spiritual, But Not Religious” or “None” are going to need more than a cookie and a speech about “doing your part” before they give up some of their time. What they need to know first is whether or not this whole church thing can make their lives more fulfilling.
Spiritual Rush Week
So rather than a Committee Fair each fall, how about a Spiritual Rush Week? Instead of picking a Sunday to fill up the fellowship hall with tables for every conceivable church committee, why not take a week (or two) to virtually and in real life let people know just what your congregation can do to nurture their spiritual lives?
Just imagine a church website (and a fellowship hall) full of information about all of the wonderful adult faith formation opportunities offered by your congregation:
- One off opportunities like Taste and See, a day-long “invitation to deeper spiritual practices.”
- Movement-based spiritual experiences like Dances of Universal Peace, Tai Chi, or Yoga.
- Opportunities to experience the spirit through song, like Singing Meditation or Taize.
- Ongoing courses on spiritual practices like Centering Prayer or Lectio Divina.
- Small groups opportunities, like Covenant Groups or Small Group Spiritual Direction.
- Intuitive and creative spiritual exploration experiences like SoulCollage®.
Make a Commitment to Nurture Spirituality
When the time comes to plan the next church, why not start with a Spiritual Rush Week? Make a commitment to offer at least four distinct ways for friends and members to nurture their spirits.
Don’t forget to take into account different learning styles and personality types. Make sure there’s something for the introverts as well as the extraverts, for the movers and the shakers as well as the sitters and the thinkers, for those who sing and those who dance. Promote it heavily on your website, through social media, and from the pulpit.
Once people know what your congregation offers to nurture their spirits, they may be much more likely to give back. Who knows? You might even find the perfect person to add to your Adult Faith Formation Committee.